In My Lifetime, Vol. 1
Released just over a year after his debut record, In My Lifetime, Vol. 1 is Jay’s sophomore effort, and although it was significantly more successful than his debut in terms of sales (138k first week vs 43k), it was met with critical ambivalence.
Although much of the Mafioso theme that ran through Reasonable Doubt remains, Jay added a touch of commercial flair thanks to high profile collaborations with Diddy and Trackmasters. The album was criticised for taking a more radio-friendly approach, and tracks like “Sunshine,” with its decidedly non-gangster video, were panned. Jay released a total of 6 singles from the record: “Who You Wit,” “Sunshine,” “The City is Mine,” “A Million and One Questions,” “Wishing on a Star” and “Imaginary Player.” This compared to the 4 on his debut record.
This was Jay’s first record since the passing of his good friend and hip-hop legend The Notorious B.I.G.. Jay explains:
The album to me — this album wasn’t fun to me like Reasonable Doubt, because it was like, it seemed really slow to me, and I didn’t set out to do that, just looking back now and listening to it now. There’s a lot of emotions on the album, and that was definitely influenced by what was goin’ on and what had happened
In subsequent years, Jay has claimed that Vol. 1 could have been “a classic,” if he hadn’t chased radio airplay:
What I did with ‘[In My Lifetime] Volume One’ was I tried to make records. I had just made ‘Reasonable Doubt’ … it wasn’t successful in music industry terms, it was a cult classic on the streets, but it wasn’t successful in the music business and I tried to blend the two. If you look back on ‘In My Lifetime,’ there were songs on there that were brilliant. I don’t listen to that album because I think I messed it up. It’s so many incredible records on there that I think I missed having two classics in a row [by] trying to get on the radio.
In 2013 Jay ranked the record number 7 in his catalogue.